The Vicariate for Pastoral Formation works with parishes and schools across the Diocese to provide support, formation and opportunities for young people and for those who journey with them, centred in deepening their relationship with Jesus Christ.

The Vicariate integrates and continues the work of the Brentwood Catholic Youth Service (BCYS) and Walsingham House, which have together been a vibrant feature within our Diocese for over thirty years, benefitting many thousands of young people. In 2018 the Vicariate transferred to the more central site of Abbotswick near Brentwood.

Formation is offered in a pastoral context, meaning that Sacramental Catechesis, a deep and rich prayer life, and opportunities for service and outreach to the poorest and those most in need, are all interwoven. The Vicariate works with parish catechists, school chaplains, university chaplains and young people from the point of First Holy Communion through to young adulthood; in the latter years opportunity of service through leadership is highlighted. A thread which runs throughout all the ministry of the Vicariate is that of Vocation; each young person discovering their particular and personal calling from God, which includes a call to marriage, priesthood, religious life or single life. Special projects which also fall within the Vicariate include Diocesan Pilgrimages, which are naturally places of formation in themselves and in the lead up to and follow up from each pilgrimage.

Vicariate Management Committee

The Vicariate Management Committee offers strategic advice and support, to help ensure all areas of the Vicariate are working well together, to offer challenge and accountability, and to set strategic direction for the future. The Committee includes the Vicariate staff, as well as people with expertise in the key areas of the Vicariate. The Committee Members are:

Episcopal Vicar, Chair Rev Dominic Howarth
School Chaplaincy Co-ordinator Claire Bailey
Vocations Accompanier Rev Martin Boland
Confirmation Catechist Aine Burke
Ordinariate Deacon, School Chaplain Rev Richard Cerson
Vocations Promoter and Catechist Eamonn Hyde
First Holy Communion Catechist Maura Keown
Confirmation Catechist Sylvia Shepherd
Vocations Director Rev Graham Smith
Interim Events Manager Clare Sullivan
Walsingham House Manager Leighton Walker

The Vicariate for Pastoral Formation specialisms:

Brentwood Catholic Youth Service (BCYS)

The BCYS offers specific events and opportunities for young people, integrated within the Vicariate for Pastoral Formation. The events are popular, usually over-subscribed, and open to every young person in the Diocese. Particular highlights of the year include the Annual Pilgrimage to Lourdes in the Summer, and work with the HCPT in Lourdes at Easter. In 2016 the BCYS will be leading a Diocesan group to join Pope Francis and three million young people from across the world in Krakow, Poland. On the first Wednesday of each month there is a BCYS-led Mass for young people at 8pm at Brentwood Cathedral. Confirmation and school groups are welcome – please let us know if you are bringing a group. The full range of events and opportunities can be found at

BCYS Interim Events Manager Clare Sullivan
Coordinator Rev Dominic Howarth
Team Rt Rev Hugh Allen
Canon Martin O’Connor
Rev Daniel Mason
Rev Daniel Kelly
Rev Mark Swires

Walsingham House at Abbotswick

walsingham-house-logo-smallWalsingham House at Abbotswick is a fully refurbished retreat house for young people and adults, set in the heart of Brentwood Diocese. We are in a beautiful, tranquil, rural location, five miles from Brentwood and with 14 acres of our own grounds. During school term time a team of volunteers aged 18-23 offer retreats to young people from schools and parishes within Brentwood Diocese, working with over five thousand young people (aged 10-18) every year, both at the House and across the Diocese. In the late summer and early autumn, as well as in quiet periods during the year, adult parish groups use the house. This is most usually for day retreats.

The £500,000 refurbishment of Walsingham House at Abbotswick has just been completed (Jan 2018); in a house which is 100 years old we now have modern en-suite rooms that accommodate three to eight young people in bunk beds, in addition to a large downstairs meeting room and small group rooms.

The move to Abbotswick is a new chapter for Youth Ministry within Brentwood Diocese. Walsingham House (formerly located at Chingford, then Canvey Island) has a thirty year history of providing retreat opportunities for young people. Abbotswick has served as a House of Prayer for the Diocese, also for around thirty years, and this new chapter draws from the heritage of both Walsingham House and Abbotswick. Retreat provision is an integral part of the Brentwood Catholic Youth Service (BCYS), and sits within the Vicariate for Pastoral Formation, which draws together work with School Chaplains, Parish Catechists and University Chaplains. The Vicariate also looks after the emerging Diocese of Brentwood Caritas, which – with a focus on supporting social justice ministry within the Diocese – will offer pathways to young adults who are moving beyond the BCYS. The Vicariate Office is located at Walsingham House at Abbotswick, as the natural hub for our ministry.


Manager Leighton Walker
Assistant Manager Jordan Kelly

Walsingham House Volunteer Retreat Team

The Walsingham House team live as a community, sharing prayer, meals and social time, and exist to evangelise; to help young people encounter Christ, to understand the Gospel more deeply, and to celebrate their Catholic faith. We do so recognising that young people arrive at the House from many different starting points, and often with many questions, doubts and struggles, as well as with great energy and joy. We hope to offer a warm welcome, a place of reflection, prayer, catechesis, kindness, challenge, and above all time to ever more deeply meet and know Christ as “brother, saviour and friend” (St John Paul II).

Many team members have experienced first-hand a Walsingham House retreat or BCYS event as a young person, and this has often led them to join the team as a young adult. The commitment of giving a year to serve young people throughout the Diocese is a magnificent opportunity, and places on the team attract many applicants. For details of applications for the next year’s volunteer team, please contact the manager.

Assumption, Maldon & St John Payne School, Chelmsford Katie Bacon
Brentwood Ursuline Convent High School & Christ the Eternal High Priest, Gidea Park Giorgia Carlucci-Judd
St Helen’s Cathedral, Brentwood & New Hall School, Boreham Molly Conrad
Our Lady of Lourdes, Leigh-on-Sea, and Westcliff High School for Boys, Southend Joe Kwasnica
St Augustine’s, Springfield & St John Payne School, Chelmsford Claire Pocock
St Cedd’s, Goodmayes & The Palmer Catholic Academy, Seven Kings Liam Walsh

Brentwood Vocations

Diocesan Vocations Directors Rev Graham Smith
Rev Dominic Howarth
Diocesan Vocations Accompanier Rev Martin Boland
Diocesan Vocations Promoter Eamonn Hyde

Brentwood Vocations exists to support every person in discovering their unique vocation – who God is calling you to be, what God is calling you to do. There are lots of resources on the website to help in discerning vocation, and there are also regular Vocations discernment evenings and talks. As Vocations Promoter working within the Vicariate for Pastoral Formation, Eamonn regularly visits Diocesan schools, and there will soon be a Vocations session for Confirmation and First Holy Communion Programmes, available during 2016.

If you feel called to Diocesan Priesthood, you are warmly encouraged to speak to your parish priest, school or university chaplain, and then to call Fr Graham or Fr Martin.

Please pray for our students to the Diocesan Priesthood:

Pontifical Beda College, Rome Rick Fernandez
St Mary’s College, Oscott David Pearce
The Venerable English College, Rome Gary Dench
St Mary’s College, Oscott Paschal Uche
St Mary’s College, Oscott Michael Barwick

Please pray for those discerning vocation:

You call us by name
with the words first spoken
on the shore of Lake Galilee,
“Follow me.”

Breathe deep within us
the gifts of your Holy Spirit;
Help us to have
the wisdom to hear your call,
the courage to answer it,
and the faith to live it.

So that the Gospel is preached,
the poor are served with love,
the suffering are comforted,
the lost are found and welcomed,
and all are strengthened
by the grace and joy of the Sacraments.

In our parish community,
our family, our home, our school,
in our Diocese of Brentwood,
especially inspire those who
you are calling today to the
priesthood and religious life
to say, “Yes, Lord. Here I am. Send me.”

We ask this through Christ our Lord


Additionally, the work of the Vicariate includes:

Permanent Diaconate

Diocesan Director Rev John Harvey, BA(Div), JCL, MCL, KHS

SVP St John Bosco Children’s Camp

Chaplains Rev Mark Swires
James Mackay

School Chaplaincy

Almost all of our Catholic secondary schools employ a Lay Chaplain to assist in preparation of school liturgies and Masses, as well as preparing resources for assemblies and the liturgical seasons. They also arrange retreats for students, often at Walsingham House, and accompany them there. The school chaplains meet once a term, and these gatherings and other resource provision are co-ordinated by Claire Bailey, Chaplain at the Brentwood Ursuline Convent High School, who can be contacted through the school or the Vicariate Office. This provision is arranged jointly with the Vicariate for Education.

University Chaplaincy

University of Essex Rev Mark Swires
Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford Br Pius Collins
East London Br John Francis


Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes

Diocesan Pilgrimage: 14th – 19th August 2016
(to include the Feast of the Assumption)

Pilgrimage Director Rev Paul Keane
Administrative Director Mrs Cathy O'Connor

Diocesan Pilgrimage to Walsingham

Diocesan Pilgrimage: Saturday 28th May 2016

Walsingham Pilgrimage Secretary

Diocesan Pilgrimage to Bradwell

Ecumenical Pilgrimage: Saturday 2nd July 2016

Pilgrimage Organiser Rev David H Prior